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Abel Tasman

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Awakening to a still and silent morning in the hostel, I prepare and pack for my 2 day trek through the Abel Tasman coast via kayak and Hike. The shuttle bus arrives and carries us to the kayak company headquarters in Motueka. I meet Kim there who will be our kayak guide as well as a German couple, Claudia and Sebastian, I briefly talked to in Wellington’s finest cafe, Plum. The New Zealand tour circuit suddenly seems very small.

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In my previous travels so far I have maintained two basic packing strategies, everything on my back and the travel alternative of clothing and toiletries with accessories in a duffel bag. This two day adventure requires a new strategy: a couple of days worth of clothing in my backpack along with some essentials for the journey with everything else in the duffel bag stored in Motueka.

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I hand the duffel over to Kim for storage indicating it contains my valuables. She decides the best place to keep the bag is on top of the first aid kit behind the counter. I look at the duffel bag and wonder if this is the last time I will see my lovely laptop.

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We depart for the ramp in Marahau where the water taxi picks us up and ferries us to Onetahuti Beach inside the Abel Tasman marine reserve. Since I am the only lone traveler, Kim and I pair up in the two-person vessel which is great since I get frequent information updates on the birds, plants, and local gossip which the others in our group never get to hear. Soon after a quick introduction to sea kayaks and kayak safety our group paddles away from the beach toward Tonga island which is a sea lion birthing ground.

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The pups are young and adorable and the males have been kicked off the island by the females for this stage of the pup growth. Though the day is overcast, the thick layer of blubber on the pups keeps them warm, perky, and playful. They seem to enjoy the smaller pools along the edge of the island over the open ocean, given that the pools offer all the fun and enjoyment of swimming without those pesky orkas.
We stop for lunch in Bark Bay which is a simple sandwich affair. I pull out a few beers during lunch which I had packed away in the morning and stowed in the bottom of the kayak for a little bit of cooling and share them with Sebastian. The quality of the moment surpasses the beer and we enjoy ourselves in the Sun.
After exploring bays and islands along the coast we arrive in Torrent Bay and Aquapakcers. We stay up late drinking beer and playing cards and rise early to begin the hike back to Marahau.

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The hike is easy and gorgeous. The greatest obstacle is a collapsed bridge. Over the course of the trek, there is a nonstop and lovely mix of harmonious birdsong with the cacophonous clamoring of the cicadas.
Near the end of the hike, I run into Amy and we agree to meet later that day to continue our South island journey together. She has a car and I tire of the buses which are nice though not frequent enough when you do not have much total time in the country. I think the lesson here is that I should allot more time to explore an entire country with the diversity of beaches, hiking, skiing, caving, surfing, glaciers, and the likeliest highest ratio of national parks to residents in the world.
I return to Motueka and find my laptop safe and sound on top of the first aid kit. Good thing they have a good safety record.

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